How to get the best back to school shot

Doesn’t it feel like the summer holidays have flown by? Some children are back already with the majority edging closer to the start of the autumn term. By now (hopefully!) everything is under control and the new uniform is purchased even if it’s not labelled. The first day back marks the return of the routine after a six-week break. With this new chapter comes the obligatory back to school shot which, given a little planning, can be lots of fun. Here are ten ways you can get that photo. 

Take advantage of the great outdoors

Nothing beats natural light and cloudy days ideal for portrait photography. If it’s sunny, shoot in the shade to avoid the intensity of the sun and unwanted shadows. Try to avoid having too much clutter in the background. Seek out interesting shapes which will frame or compliment rather distract like a brick wall, a fence or a front door.

Get active

To achieve those natural expressions, go outside and get the kids moving around. Jumping the in air, spending time on a swing or doing another activity they enjoy will bring more relaxed poses, smiles and even giggles.

Use props

Distracting children by using props is a great way to achieve more natural back to school photos. Having something to hold will make them feel at ease whether it’s coloured pencils, school books or an apple. Depending on their age, they could even wear fake glasses! A great way to personalise back to school photos is by using a chalkboard. This could include a name or nickname and year group or an entertaining or memorable message. For older children, this might include a hashtag.

Snap from overhead

The best photographs of children are taken at eye level but shooting from above can give a great perspective. More often than not you can capture the sparkle in the eyes too.

Capture the colours

Bringing colour into your back to school images will make the photos more vibrant. This might be a colourful backpack against a grey uniform or using eye-catching primary colours such as red, blue or yellow.

Fill the frame

It’s amazing how much children change over the course of a year so focusing on their face is a nice way to remember the first day back. You’d be surprised how much they change once they’ve started school.

Same pose in the same place

A great way to document how your children develop is by capturing them in the same pose in the same place every year. In the garden is a good option as it’s fairly generic and easy to replicate if homes or schools change. 

Be candid

One of the best ways to capture that perfect shot is to catch them unawares whether they’re doing up their buttons, tying their shoelaces or walking to school. And shots taken from behind always work well.

Shoot in advance

If you want to capture your children looking natural and it might not happen on the first day back, why not have a mini shoot a few days beforehand? Trying on new clothes is bound to make them feel great without all the pre-school nerves. Plus it’s one less thing to think about on the first day of school. 

Have fun

Finally, the best tip for getting those back to school shots is to have fun. If you’re enjoying yourself, the kids will too. And if they’re still not playing ball, just take a photograph anyway – they’ll thank you for it when they’re older. 


Share Button

About Charly Dove

Charly Dove is a digital specialist, multi-award nominated blogger and photographer with 20 years experience in the marketing industry. She blogs at parent & lifestyle blog PODcast ( and adventure & family travel blog POD Travels ( Charly lives in Surrey with her husband and daughter.